With his D&AD Yellow Pencil in hand, Martin Craster went from the Academy, to a placement at Moving Picture Company, to a freelance creative.
How has your D&AD New Blood Awards experience helped you in your creative career?
D&AD is an icebreaker for me. It’s the thing that people always ask, and it’s a story I like to tell. Being able to tell people I'm an award-winning designer helps me stand out against the people who are just designers. In the current climate and the sheer amount of competition, it’s the help I need.
How did your placement at Moving Picture Company compare to your expectations?
MPC was an eye opener. I have only ever been in small studios and to wander into the Moving Picture Company was a shock to the system. The end product MPC deliver is outstanding and the amount of people in there with technical skills really helps you to learn. It is an exciting place. They don't just do commercials, they make films come to life. I was certainly honoured to be a part of that machine for a couple of months.
Since your placement you have gone freelance. What made you decide to do this?
The main reason was at the time of deciding what to do with myself the studios I loved and wanted to be a part of weren't taking on full time staff. My choices were to continue interning but actually doing full time work and living on bread and butter, or take my chance and Yellow Pencil with me and go knock on doors, telling people I'm available for work. There was also a lifestyle choice involved in the decision. The cost of living in London is always growing and it was the only way my partner and me could afford to rent a place on our own. Big gamble.
How much did you know about working freelance before you started and how much have you had to learn along the way?
I knew nothing. I got an accountant to help with taxes and receipts. Being pro-active is one of my main assets, and it has got me in some strange situations in the past. In the world of freelance being pro-active is a must. If your foot lifts off the accelerator, the potential for new clients and new jobs stay in the distance and there are always people who will beat you to it. One aspect of freelancing I love is the ability to work with lots of different people in the creative design and advertising community. I am still learning when to say no to projects. This is important because when I eventually say no, it will allow me to design something for myself.
What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone else wanting to start his or her own studio?
Fear is a good thing, and getting comfortable isn't. You start to relax and stop being that experimental creative wonder people hired you for. I found myself in a place of comfort, and that warm fuzzy place stops you learning new techniques and creating new exciting work. I quit my job and made myself available for projects.
To find out more about how winning a New Blood Pencil could help catapult you into a creative career, visit the D&AD New Blood Awards page. Or, check out Martin Craster's website to see what kind of things a D&AD Yellow Pencil winner gets up to these days.